Illegal Drugs in America: A Modern History Essay

There are enough evidences of the fact, that illegal drug usage is related to crimes in various ways. Possession and distribution of illegal drugs already belong to crimes according to the laws. In this paper we are going to discuss another type of relation to crimes – namely the effects, which drugs might have upon the behavior of the drug user, pushing him to committing a crime.

From the beginning this is necessary to underline, that both illegal use of drugs and crimes belong to the sphere of deviant behavior, they both have their sophisticated internal structures, their types of causes and influences. What is common for both crime and drug use ”“ is the simple structure, which consists of several steps: intention to make some action, the action itself and finally after-effects of this action, which usually do not correspond to the initial potential outcomes of the intention.

In general studies of drug-crimes relation should take into consideration a lot of factors and peculiarities of drug users’ psychology as major source of their behavior tendencies. Most of the drug addicted people explain during interviews, that they had to steal money or to rob somebody in order to get money to pay for the drugs. But often, they also state, that they would do the same not only for buying drugs, but for buying some other commodities, like food, transportation and so on. This means, that although the connection between drugs and crimes seems evident, it is usually necessary to consider a lot of other factors, which resulted in crime, in order for the future to improve the criminal situation; to them might belong situational, cultural, economical, personal and other conditions. Thus drugs should be considered only as one of the other factors, causing a crime, but a rather strong one as the recent researches show.

To have a complete picture of the link between drugs and crimes it is necessary to study different types of connections between them. Goldstein worked out three main models, which are usually used for identifying the type of relationship between crime and drugs. This scheme, as Goldstein also agreed, doesn’t still exclude the impact of other factors on criminal activities. According to the first model crime is related to drugs due to their psychopharmacological effects. This means, that drugs influence negatively on self-control of people, lead to paranoid ideas and distort perception of reality. All drugs influence the nervous system, but there are some, which according to recent researches have stronger impact on person’s violence. They include: PCP, cocaine, barbiturates and amphetamines. Heroin and cannabis are said to be less associated with violence desires (Nurco, 200).

This model however is till the moment not enough investigated and thus there can not be provided a lot of evidence to support it; it is still very difficult to identify the effects of every drug exactly.  The main data, which is used for supporting this model, are the reports about the arrested people, who used drugs before committing a crime.

The second model ”“ economic ”“compulsive link – is based on the fact, that drugs are mostly expensive and people commit crimes in order to get money to buy them. In these cases the need for drugs becomes more important, than responsibility for crime. This model touches mostly the individuals, who are strongly dependant on expensive drugs and constantly need rather big sums of money for purchasing them. This model is often widely supported by mass media.

Speaking about this type of relation between drug and crimes it is necessary to mention, that there are different crimes committed for the sake of money in this case, including a great number of non-violent ones. The cases, when really violent crimes are committed prove to be rather rare.

The third model – systemic link – is based on the connection between illegal drug users and drug market (Mott, 1993). Violence has been always closely related to the illegal distribution of drugs, as there is no legal way of distributing and buying them. This model suggests, that due to the fact that this kind of illegal business is able to bring good money there is strong competition between drug dealers. As a result there are always conflicts between dealers for the territory of the potential market, between them and their customers, when they get in debts and so on. “While legally regulated markets, such as those in alcohol or pharmaceuticals, have recourse to legitimate authority to resolve disputes and set standards for fair competition, those involved in an illegal, high profit market resort mainly to force”ť (Inciardi, 1981). Thus violence as an integral part of drug business is used for main aims of dealers, importers and traffickers, as it is reverted into a type of major organizational management.

Overall, all three models that we discussed above, demonstrate rather close relation of drugs to crimes. No doubt in any of these described cases drugs might be the major cause of a serious crime, thus all cases are dangerous for the society as a whole. But we have to admit, that economic-compulsive link can be traced not only in cases of drug users, because there are always enough people, looking for “easy”ť way of earning money and they are ready to commit a crime only with the aim to become rich. Systemic link is also not so particular for the drugs’ related business only. There are other types of illegal and even legal business, where competition and fight for better profits might result in criminal actions. However the first model seems to be that of the greatest social threat. As soon as a person looses control over his brains and perceptions, he becomes very dangerous for others, as he can not control his actions either. There is little chance, that there will be something that could stop him in case he is not any more aware of what he is doing and why. Human psychic activities are so subtle and often so difficult to predict , that it might become really dangerous. “The relationship between drugs and crime is not as easy to understand as some claim.  The triangular relationship between a person, a product and behavior is complex and cannot be defined in a simple formula no matter how appealing.  Care must be taken to avoid the tendency to reduce reality to simplifications that distort it”ť (Tonry, 1995).

Certainly we have to underline it again, this is not correct to state, that drug use is the only cause of crime, this will be too simplified approach; in reality there are a lot of other factors, which would also impact the criminal behavior and we can admit, that drugs serve as an intensifier for criminal acts.

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